Expected increase in youth vote

“In 1972, amidst the controversial Vietnam War, the legal voting age in the United States was lowered to 18, which sent enthusiastic young people to the polls for the first time. Since then political pundits have agreed that it is an inevitable truth that the youth will not show up on Election Day.”

In 1972, amidst the controversial Vietnam War, the legal voting age in the United States was lowered to 18, which sent enthusiastic young people to the polls for the first time. Since then political pundits have agreed that it is an inevitable truth that the youth will not show up on Election Day.

In 2008, it appears things have started to turn around for the 18-25 year-old voters. 

The youth vote turned out in record numbers for the primary elections, doubling and even tripling in almost every state, leaving political pundits to wonder what it is that has attracted the youth to this particular election.

The answer seems not to be what, but who.

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has been reaching out to the youth vote with significant results.  In the Iowa caucuses young people voted 4-1 for Obama and gave him a net gain of 17,000 votes in a state where he won by under 20,000.

Similar results were found in other states. In New Hampshire, the margin of young voters for Obama was 3-1, in Nevada 2-1, and in Wisconsin in polling locations close to universities. Obama won by a 5-1 margin; in South Carolina, a typical Republican state, he had more youth votes than all Republican candidates combined.  And now that Obama has become the nominee for the Democratic Party, polls are showing that Obama has more than a 20 percent edge over Republican nominee John McCain among the 18-25 year-old voters.

Supporters of Obama started a University of Akron branch of the national organization Students for Barack Obama. Students for Obama is a national organization of high school, college, graduate, and law students united by a common mission-to change American politics by helping to elect Barack Obama President of the United States. The Akron branch has more than 200 members.  Neither McCain nor any other candidate has a student organization with such a large following.

I want a candidate that speaks for me, who shares the same ideologies as me, and Obama is that candidate.  He sees the mess the country is in and he makes it clear he wants change.  He inspires many others and me. He is the person we need in office; and I have full confidence in him and his policies. freshman Jon Parsitti said.

Even Republican candidate John McCain is aware of the support young voters give his opponent. He even hosted an episode of NBC’s Saturday Night Live to get the attention of the younger generation.

I need to do a better job…with young voters in America, and I want to reach out to them. McCain said.

Though Obama has won support of the 18-25 year- old voters such as Parsitti, there are political scientists who say that there are many factors that have caused the young people to become so involved. 

University of Akron political science professor and Assistant Director of the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics, Dr. Stephen Brooks said the youth interest has much to do with the increased general interest of all voters.   

Akron political science professor, Dr. Cohen says the issues of the campaign draws in the young voters.

There are a lot of issues directly affecting young voters. The high costs of gasoline and college tuition are two issues that directly affect young voters. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also directly impact the younger generation, said Dr. Cohen

Whatever the cause, everyone can agree that young people haven’t shown this much enthusiasm for an election in decades.  The hope is that this interest continues through November, and the 2008 presidential election will see unprecedented increases in the youth vote.

The best way to get out the youth vote in 2008 will be a strategy that focuses on phone calls, registration drives, campus canvassing and online appeals, and to guarantee their votes in November, you have to keep their interest and follow up on the get out the vote drives with ‘knock-and-drag’ tactics on Election Day, Democratic strategist Joe Binnis said.

There always is that chance that the 18-25 year-olds will show interest throughout the campaign but negate to show up on Election Day as has happened in previous elections.

We often hear of younger voters being energized before an election and then they don’t turnout like we expected. I do think, however, Obama connects well with young people and that may spur some to turnout for him, said Professor Cohen.

Candidates are reaching out to the youth this election, and the nation will find out Nov. 4 if their efforts paid off.